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5 Biggest Mistakes When Creating a Knowledge Base

Posted by
Elmira in ClickHelp Features on 11/22/20236 min read

technical writer in a cozy office

As your company's documentation continues to accumulate, you and your team may encounter issues such as losing documents stored on office PCs or instances where document owners forget to share important information with their colleagues. These challenges are common in companies that store information internally.

Establishing and maintaining your company's knowledge base can be a significant undertaking. However, by addressing this matter correctly, you can achieve excellent results as long as you steer clear of the most common mistakes associated with the process. This blog aims to guide you on avoiding these pitfalls and, instead, creating a knowledge base that is easy to manage, accessible, and reusable.

What Is a Knowledge Base?

Information is a valuable asset for any company, akin to human resources, production facilities, raw materials, and finances. When information is not managed effectively — organized, shared, stored, used, and reused — it becomes a mere repository for useless documents.

In the present scenario, many companies favor online knowledge bases over internal ones. This shift is primarily driven by the exponential increase in the volume of information. Storing all this information internally requires expanding physical space, incurring substantial costs. Consequently, the traditional company knowledge base has evolved into an online documentation repository, often referred to as a company wiki.

This transformation means that most companies utilize specialized software, enabling them to store, exchange, create, edit, review, and even translate documents on a cloud-based platform. This approach proves to be more cost-effective for companies compared to renting server space or purchasing dedicated servers.

Common Mistakes When Creating a Knowledge Base

Regardless of whether you establish an online or internal knowledge base, there are specific common mistakes that you must steer clear of:

  • Ensure you don't overlook the importance of hiring a knowledge manager, also known as a knowledge engineer. Some companies tend to neglect bringing in this specialist, but having a knowledgeable professional can significantly contribute to managing the company wiki effectively and streamlining information access through the development of authorization policies and procedures. It is evident that certain documents should remain confidential, but it is crucial for all employees to access the necessary documents. This adherence to a golden rule enhances productivity in the workplace. Additionally, a knowledge manager plays a vital role in increasing employees' overall awareness of available documentation and can provide assistance by supplying the required documents when they cannot locate them independently.
  • Encourage new hires to utilize the knowledge base. Your company wiki should serve as a valuable information source not only for seasoned employees but also for those who are just starting. Don't assume that their limited experience prevents them from accessing the wealth of industry-specific information stored in your company's files. The key is to grant them access to the relevant documentation, especially materials that facilitate their training. Organize the information in a way that facilitates the onboarding process. Ensure that both the new hire and the trainer have access to the necessary information. This approach will shorten the training period and effectively integrate the new hire into the workflow.
  • Don't limit access to the knowledge base to office-based employees alone; extend it to teleworkers as well. This can be effortlessly achieved by housing your company's knowledge base on the cloud. By doing so, your employees can work from home with greater efficiency, having access to the most pertinent information from any location around the world. Simultaneously, storing documents online guarantees that crucial information is never lost.
  • Avoid restricting your database to documents exclusively. Supply users with templates, enabling them to generate new documents swiftly. This is integral to the documentation reuse process, expediting your work and enhancing overall ease of use.
  • Equip your company wiki with a user-friendly and efficient search tool. Not all your employees will be familiar with the logical structure or "architecture" of your company's knowledge base. It can be challenging to recognize, for instance, that the folder labeled 'Recipes' encompasses the details of the SOPs (standard operating procedures) endorsed in your company, or that the folder 'Remedies' holds information on the most prevalent troubleshooting issues. To facilitate accessibility, implement a robust search tool in your knowledge base, allowing users to locate the necessary documents based on context.

The adage "practice makes perfect" holds true, and the more you engage with your knowledge base, the more weaknesses you'll identify and rectify. Consequently, you'll develop an effective tool that can seamlessly integrate into your everyday work.

data migration birds

Benefits of a Knowledge Base

Even if your knowledge base falls short of perfection, it still offers a range of advantages:

  • Reduced work time. Bid farewell to time wasted scouring company information silos. Essential documentation will be readily available whenever you need it, eliminating words like 'downtime,' 'idling,' or 'procrastination.' Instead, your company will operate ahead of schedule.
  • Faster decision-making. A knowledge base proves beneficial for top managers as well. Access to comprehensive and current information is crucial for swift decision-making. Rapid delivery of such information can save time typically spent on meetings and discussions.
  • Reduced errors. Documents often have various versions, revisions, editions, and updates. Through the knowledge base, your employees can access and compare them all, facilitating the selection of the right document. This, in turn, reduces conflicts in the workflow.
  • Improved teamwork. While traditional 'intranet' systems hinted at collaboration, they pale in comparison to cutting-edge cloud systems. In intranet systems, access to shared files and some public documents in common folders existed, but it fell short of true teamwork. With online documentation software, employees can collaboratively work on the same document simultaneously, eliminating the need for email exchanges and scheduled meetings. No longer must you send documents via email; stakeholders can witness real-time adjustments, comments, and content revisions.
  • Enhanced accessibility. An online knowledge base guarantees accessibility from various devices, be it phones, PCs, or tablets. This proves especially convenient when there's a need to swiftly locate a document or review information.
  • Enhanced information reuse. When your team of writers has access to a comprehensive range of documentation, creating new documents based on previous ones becomes significantly easier. This ensures no information is lost in silos, enhancing the effectiveness of technical writers' work.

Indeed, the aforementioned advantages will culminate in heightened productivity within your team, an elevated corporate communication style, and improved workflow efficiency.

Creating a Knowledge Base in ClickHelp

ClickHelp is an online documentation system that will ensure the manageability, accessibility, and reusability of your knowledge base. ClickHelp offers the following features:

  • Documentation templates. Utilizing templates is crucial when aiming to generate new documents following a specific standard. The templates available in your ClickHelp portal vary in terms of design, color palette, and layout. Moreover, if the existing templates don't meet your requirements, you can modify the CSS files of your projects to adhere to your company's branding guidelines.
  • User access and authorization features. In ClickHelp, you have the flexibility to make your documentation either public or protected with a password. Public documentation gets indexed by search engines, providing benefits for SEO purposes. Password protection is useful for documents intended exclusively for authorized readers.
  • Reusability of the information. ClickHelp simplifies content reuse, especially when dealing with numerous standard documents that share similar structures and content. This is particularly relevant for manuals or specifications with repeated use of identical content segments in updated versions.
  • Easy update. Streamlining the updating process is achieved through single sourcing. With ClickHelp, you no longer need to make adjustments in several similar documents and go through the tedious process of checking and proofreading repeatedly. Instead, updating a single piece of sourced content automatically updates all related documents.

Your ClickHelp portal offers numerous additional features to enhance the comprehensiveness, effectiveness, and time efficiency of your knowledge base.

writers discussing knowledge base

Conclusion

Online knowledge bases are gaining popularity, driven by the growing demand to manage extensive volumes of information. As the number of employees and customers increases, so does the generation of company documents. Dumping company documentation into information silos is not a viable approach, as it risks losing the knowledge base. Documents need to be actively created, reviewed, adjusted and shared. ClickHelp provides a straightforward solution to enhance your company's competitiveness by improving documentation processes.

Happy writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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